Jul 13, 2014

HAL seeks assistance in reducing HJT-36 weight

India has sought foreign technical assistance to help reduce the weight of its military training aircraft being developed by HAL. Development of the HJT-36 Sitara intermediate jet trainer aircraft has struggled with technical issues and three incidents, delaying adoption by the Indian Air Force, its sole customer. Mint has reviewed a global tender floated by HAL seeking technical help to reduce the aircraft’s weight. HAL, it said, was “looking forward for partnership or technical assistance or consultancy from a well experienced airframe design house”. Early availability of the trainer aircraft, where pilots who have completed basic training learn combat flying before moving up to advanced jet trainers, is critical for the IAF, which needs a steady supply of qualified fighter pilots. The HJT-36 is in an advanced stage of development and is expected to enter service within a year. HAL tender said the company has a firm order of 85 aircraft from the defence services. More orders are expected once the aircraft is operationalized. A senior defence consultant, said the intermediate jet trainer was touted as a plane that will help revive homegrown aircraft technology, along with LCA Tejas, a multi-role light fighter being developed by HAL. Former air chief marshal said the HAL tender reflects poorly on the project management side of the trainer aircraft.

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